How would you respond to this question -- What value-add you bring to role and responsibility that directly contributes to the financial stability, success and growth of your organisation? Do your customers, co-workers and supervisors know who you are? And if they do, would a discussion about you and your work be positive and favourable?
Don´t expect your bosses to notice your extra work, staying late at work, working weekends or additional training, creative ideas and special projects. You may be enthusiastic and intelligent, communicate effectively, exhibit strong leadership skills, embrace change, work efficiently and possess technical competence and strong interpersonal skills yet still find yourself struggling, simply because you fail to persuade the skills, ideas and commitment that are vital to 'team success'.
Help generate revenue
If your organisation is committed to making a profit by providing top-quality products/services along with extra value to its customers, then you must show how you contribute to that pursuit. The customer ultimately determines the ability to make a profit.
As Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, American multinational retail corporation, said, “There is only one boss—the customer. And he can fire everybody, by spending his money elsewhere.” You must bring added value in the form of profits by focusing on the impact on customers.
When you are helping in the success of the company financially, you prove your value. Companies want to make sure they are getting a return on their investment, so if you can focus your time on adding financial value to the company by excelling at your assignments and projects, then it shows that they made a good investment in you as a professional person.
Help save money
You can also help increase profits by saving money. Managers seek to save in five ways: 1) reduce staff (downsizing), 2) cut benefits, 3) lower salaries, 4) decrease products or services (cutbacks) or 5) increase productivity. Since you aren´t interested in the first four options, think of ways to increase your productivity by working smarter and producing more to maintain your earnings and benefits. If you are worried about your job security and frustrated by the extra work and fewer resources, you can´t let this affect your job performance. If you can spot money-wasting activities and then come up with a solution to remedy the situation, you´ll prove your sincerity, commitment and added value.
Standout in a positive way
Many people argue, whine and complain about their jobs, duties, customers, equipment and coworkers. If you attract attention by being negative, don´t be surprised when you lose focus on goal, results and ultimately your opportunity! Negative attention does not help. People should associate your name, face and expertise with positive feelings about your work, your teamwork, your customer commitment and the value you bring.
Stay away from trolls
The single most detrimental thing for a thriving and productive team is negativity. In order to show your value, be that positive influence in a team or group and encourage your peers to be the same. If you come across someone who is essentially ‘trolling’, be honest with them that their negativity is not welcome. Encourage them to change their attitude and try to look for ways to help them. If they persist, then they should be removed from a project.
Invest in yourself as a professional person. Take time out of your life to treat yourself like a shiny, new product ready to be marketed to the world. Invest in yourself through blogging, participating in networking events, attending lectures, talking to new people and sharing new ideas. By doing this, companies see that you take the time to build yourself up as a professional and help boost the company by representing them well in the industry.
Staying on top of new and interesting developments in the industry keeps ideas and conversations fresh. Reading, learning and discussing these topics show that you are flexible and interested in the future. It makes for some fun discussion with peers at the next company outing.
Be reliable and dependable: Make sure you work all the hours you have agreed to and more. Arrive early and leave late. Don’t tend to be clock watchers; show the bosses that you are willing to go the extra mile and work hard. Confirm that the time you take your lunch break is convenient and be back with time to spare. Let your bosses know that you are available to work when and where needed – be as flexible as possible with your scheduling.
Look the part: Make sure you dress according to the company culture and that you appear well groomed and neat. Pay attention to all aspects, from your hair to your shoes. If you wear a uniform, make sure it is clean and pressed, even if it means washing and ironing at night!
Have a positive attitude
Show confidence, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic. Be a problem-solver rather than the employee who moans and finds fault. Show that you are self-motivated and proactive. Take care of problems and deal with issues as they arise. Speak up if you have a good idea. Don’t miss an opportunity to show your ability to take initiative.
Volunteer for extra duties
Show that you are not just there to work the bare minimum and make some holiday cash, but that you are a committed and enthusiastic worker. Prove your value and versatility by going above and beyond what is asked of you. Be the first to volunteer for extra work. Pay close attention to everything and be prepared to learn new tasks. Be proactive about developing new skills and gaining pertinent knowledge.
Be careful what you say
Avoid spending time gossiping with colleagues, especially about other workers, the managers or the company. This is always noticed by employers and is not the responsible behaviour they want from future employees. Do not engage in personal conversations with other employees with earshot of customers. Be friendly, but keep your discussions positive and work-related as much as possible.
Remain calm under pressure
Demonstrate a cool head in busy and stressful situations. Try not to panic if you start to feel overloaded; just keep working steadily through whatever comes your way. This will help you stand out from other holiday employees as a professional and calm employee.
Note for new employees
If you are a new recruit, then your action plan should be ‘stretch and learn’. Start by taking on responsibilities and duties associated with the position you desire. Get to know what is required of the person doing the job you want and make it your business to acquire those necessary skills and knowledge.
Be willing to attend company-provided training, or take the initiative to strike out on your own to find educational and skill-building courses that make you the best possible candidate for the promotion. Examples abound of people who started at the lowest position in a company only to rise to a position of prominence by following this simple action plan. Find your inspiration by looking up a few of them and then do what they’ve done to get what you want.
Remember: Those who are highly valued are most likely to be the first to be considered for career advancement or some of the company’s best new assignments. And during tough times, those who are highly valued will most likely ‘not’ be the first targets in a corporate downsizing. In addition, increasing and improving value to an organisation can increase self-satisfaction, thereby decreasing stress.
(The writer, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at email@example.com)